Traditional name to Chinaman’s Hat

Aloha Authentic


The momentum has begun in building the awareness of the places we call home.  

For the month of August, our weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment will be highlighting small islands found off the shores of Oʻahu.  

This week, we head back to the area known for whales.

In the ahupuaʻa of Kualoa, which lies in the moku of Koʻolaupoko here on Oʻahu, stands a small island about 500 yards off the shoreline.  

We are talking about Mokoliʻi.  

Mokoliʻi may be familiar to most as Chinaman’s Hat, a nickname that derives from the shape of the island.  

However, its traditional name tells a different story. 

Mokoliʻi translates to “little lizard,” moko meaning “lizard” and liʻi meaning “little.”  

In Hawaiian stories, it’s also the name of an evil lizard who once lived in the area.  

It is said he would kill anyone who traveled through and came within his reach.   

That was, however, until he met the deity Hiʻiaka, the sister to Madam Pele.  

Hiʻiaka fought him, won, and broke him up into pieces, leaving his tail protruding out of the ocean.

Some say his body formed the low laying area below the cliffs of Kualoa, while others say it makes up those cliffs.

Kualoa is considered one of the most sacred areas on Oʻahu.

One reason being it’s the area where whale bones and its ivory would wash ashore, giving valuable power to the chief who ruled it.   

Did you know?  Now you do! 

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